Detroit Will Breathe demands 'Shelby six' be released from jail

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Detroit Will Breathe is calling on officials to drop the charges against their members stemming from a Saturday protest and free them from jail.

The group rallied at noon Sunday in front of the Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens after they said Shelby Township Police informed them that those arrested Saturday could face felony charges. 

Of the 10 arrested, four were released last night and six are still in custody at the Macomb County Jail, said Detroit Will Breathe organizer, Nakia Wallace. Tristan Taylor, another organizer, is one of those still in custody.

Detroit Will Breathe organizer Nakia Wallace speaks to protesters after they marched for the release of six other protesters on Sunday, Oct. 25 in Mount Clemens.

The group claimed authorities strip-searched a woman in public during the protest. Police denied strip-searching the woman, saying she took off her own clothes. 

"What we're demanding is the release of all of the Shelby six, we're demanding that the charges be dropped against everybody and we're demanding that the officers who participated in that illegal strip-search, that they be fired and they be charged," said Wallace on Sunday.

Detroit Will Breathe organizer Jae Bass chants with protesters as they marched for the release of six other protesters on Sunday, Oct. 25 in Mount Clemens.

Protesters took to the streets of Shelby Township on Saturday to demonstrate against the township's police chief, Robert Shelide, who was suspended in June for making inflammatory comments about Black Lives Matter protesters under an alias on social media. 

Sunday, the 150th day of protests, they marched through Shelby Township streets lined with Trump 2020 signs and "Back the Blue" flags to show solidarity with their peers, chanting "free the Shelby six" and "drop the charges." 

Detroit Will Breathe has also been rallying followers on social media to call and email the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office to release protesters and drop any charges against them. An arraignment will be held on Monday for those arrested. 

"We were just met at the beginning with a heavy police force and they decided to rush our march and beat and assault people," Wallace said. 

As protesters were marching down Van Dyke on Saturday, they were met by police in riot gear and shields. Some protesters were assaulted and beaten by police and one woman was stripped-searched down to her underwear in the street, Detroit Will Breathe said in a press release. 

The activist group said two people were taken to the hospital for severe concussions after being arrested and assaulted by police. 

"While on scene, one of the arrestees escaped her flex cuffs in the rear of a patrol car and stripped her clothes off," Shelby Township police said in a statement. "It was reported on social media that officers stripped search her and that was completely false."

Police said that incident was captured on the patrol car's video system and will be released to the public. 

According to police, officers met with protest organizers at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday and advised them to stay on the sidewalk and not to block or enter the roadway. At about 4 p.m., the group left the parking lot at 23 Mile and Van Dyke and entered eastbound 23 Mile, blocking traffic, police said. 

Arrests were made when police say protesters refused to stay on the sidewalk.